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Three Takeaways From Penn State’s 35-21 Rose Bowl Victory Over Utah

The Nittany Lions suffocated Utah on defense in the second half, and a high-powered offense did the rest.

Jan 2, 2023; Pasadena, California, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Sean Clifford (14) celebrates on the podium after the Penn State Nittany Lions defeated the Utah Utes in the 109th Rose Bowl game at the Rose Bowl. Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Penn State wins its second Rose Bowl in five appearances, as they take down the Utah Utes with suffocating defense in the second half. Here are your takeaways.

1: Balanced Football

The Nittany Lions protected the football, committing zero turnovers as they threw for 279 yards and ran for another 169. With the exception of a few stalled drives, the Nittany Lions were able to keep the Ute offense off the field with a balanced attack.

2: Explosive plays

Penn State now holds the longest pass play in Rose Bowl history and the third longest run play in Rose Bowl history, and both came in the same game. Nicholas Singleton took the ball 87 yards for the touchdown that would put Penn State up 21-14, then, a few drives later, Sean Clifford found KeAndre Lambert-Smith for an 88-yard touchdown pass that all but sealed the win.

3: Excited Players

For all the talk about how “bowls don’t matter,” both of these teams were fired up from the get go. The game was physical throughout, and at several times during the game things got chippy. Both team wanted to end their year with a win, and once the Nittany Lions had the victory under wraps, you could see the emotion on the sidelines. The biggest emotional display came from Clifford, who ends his career by taking Penn State back to the Rose Bowl, and came away with the win.